‘Benediction’ Review: A Poet’s Life, in Love and War

‘Benediction’ Review: A Poet’s Life, in Love and War

Since its first feature, “Voices from afar, still alive” In 1988, British author and director Terence Davis made a handful of films that could be described – because of their emotional finesse and formal accuracy – poetically. Recently, he has been making films about poets, which is not exactly the same.

“Biopic” is a clumsy word for a prose genre, and the authors’ screen is more appropriate for rhetoric than autobiographical songs. I thought “A calm passion,” Davis’ Emily Dickinson Life 2017 presentation was an exception, as much attention was paid to the details of her time and place on the subject’s indoor weather. Some of Dickinson’s fans felt otherwise, but I still insist that the film and Cynthia Nixon’s lead role revived the poet’s unparalleled, indelible intelligence.

“Benediction”, which is about the British poet Sage Fried Sasson, is in some ways more traditional. Sasson, whose life spanned from the late Victorian era to the 1960s, is remembered primarily as one of the greatest war poets. His experience in the trenches of World War I influenced the verse that changed the vocabulary and direction of English literature, and Davis powerfully began the film with archival images of the slaughter with which Sasson’s unparalleled Derived from words, poems, prose memoirs and letters.

Similar words and images are repeated in different places in a story that sometimes progresses over time, but it mostly tells the story of Sasson’s post-war life. It was played by Jack Loudon in the 30’s and 40’s and Peter Capaldi as an old, unhappy man, which is remarkably similar to Sassoon’s late photographs.

After already gaining some notoriety as a writer while the war is still raging, Sasson issued a stern opposition statement in which he refused further service on the grounds that “the war is being deliberately prolonged. There are those who have the power to end it. ” Expecting a court-martial, and at least in principle, to confront the firing squad, he is summoned to the medical board, thanks to the intervention of an old friend named Ruby Ross (Simon Russell Bell). Her pacifism is classified as a psychiatric disorder, and she is sent to Craiglackhart War Hospital in Scotland, where she reveals her homosexuality to a sympathetic doctor (Ben Daniels) and a Befriended the young poet Wolfred Owen (Matthew Tennyson), who will be killed. Action shortly before the ceasefire.

Sassoon’s subsequent social and romantic activities occupy the other half of “Benediction”, which means that his writing fades into the background. A portrait of a troubled artist becomes a bit of a familiar tabloid in Britain between wars, in which bright young things come and go and beautifully altered, utterly cruel sentences. “It was probably a little too fast,” Sasson was told by one of his barbarians.Mordant Would be a more accurate word, “replied Sassoon.) Winston Churchill is mentioned as someone he knows.

Davis provides an awkward tour of privileged, educated gay circles that helped establish the tone of the time. I think there’s a bit of “homosexuality” here, but a lot of Sasson’s friends and admirers – including Ross, musician and matinee idol Ivory Novello (Jeremy Irwin) and Legendary Delta Stephen Tennant (Calam Lynch) – Conscious of belonging to a tradition that combines sexuality with cultural attitudes and artistic pursuits. Oscar Wilde has been hailed as an idol, and as a precautionary figure in the 1890s because of the lawsuits against him.

Sasson and his associates are bound to make occasional strategic compromises with discretion, irony and homosexuality. Sasson’s marriage to Hester Getty (Kate Phillips, and then Jima Jones) is a loving and illusory one, which gives birth to a son named George (Richard Golding), who bears the brunt of his father’s old conservatism. Is.

Sasson’s complaints about the rock ‘n’ roll and its conversion to Roman Catholicism sound more like biographical facts than character expressions. Even the more intimate quotes in “Benediction” – the dealings with Novello and Tennant, and the heartache after the end of each – are more than enthusiastic. In part, this is a reflection of Sasson’s own temperament, which he tells Craiglakhart’s doctor that he is cautious and detached. But film never makes a definite connection between life and work.

Except for an unusual couple’s scenes, which include Wolfred Owen’s work, not Sasson’s. Sasson admits he first met her because of class and age, but he considers her a “great poet.” History has largely upheld this decision, and Davis has brought it home with astonishing force.

At the hospital, Owen asked Sassoon for his opinion on a poem. “Disabled” Sasson describes it as wonderful after reading it quietly. Audiences will not hear Owen’s words until the final scene of the film, when the story of a young man with a disability in war is impressively shown on the screen. Until that moment, we thought of war, heard it in poetry, and saw a glimpse of its barbarism. And then, through Sasson’s distressed memory filter, we feel it.

Rating PG-13. Sex and war, handled carefully. Running time: 2 hours 17 minutes. In theaters

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